Can Taiwan become the next big hiking destination in Asia?

Chou’s practical knowledge and unrivaled knowledge of the mountainous terrain quickly made him a sought-after guide. The Taiwanese government has even started to notice the growing popularity of the sport, in large part thanks to Chou’s efforts. In 2005, then-president Chen Shui-bian called Chou for a meeting, and Chou presented the leader with a proposal to improve the state of trekking in Taiwan. Soon after, the city of Taipei began promoting hiking trails within the city limits, budgeting around US $ 2 million per year to maintain the trails and connect existing trails into loops – one of which would be known as the Taipei Grand Trail, a 92 km route stretching from Yangmingshan in the north of the city to Muzha District in the south.

In 2011, Chou’s climbing peaked when he attempted to break Taiwan’s record for climbing Taiwan’s 100+ 3000m peaks in the shortest possible time. It took the previous record holder six months to climb the 100 peaks, and he did so with a guide and crew who helped transport supplies up and down day after day on 24 separate trips. Chou believed he could do it in just eight trips, and if all went according to plan, he could complete the 100 climbs and descents in less than three months.

“We only had four people [and] Packages of 20 to 30 kg, ”recalls Chou. “It didn’t matter if there was rain, a typhoon or an earthquake, we had to go. , erasing the previous record. The fulfillment itself is not what Chou remembers most fondly, but what they may have done for others along the way.

“The most significant thing is that we have attached a lot of markers on the trail to help people find their way. In the mountains, once you get lost you are in trouble,” he said.

In addition to working diligently to change the culture of hiking in Taiwan, Chou has also strived to make the sport safer. Taiwan’s landscape is changed every year by typhoons, and Chou has often charted new routes around those swept away by landslides while teaching hikers traditional navigation techniques so they don’t rely too much on smartphones and other technologies, which could always fail.

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